NorthWest Fall Equinox Festival (NWFEF) 2012 (Review)
Article ID: 15193
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,160
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Author: Incense Dragon [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: September 23rd. 2012
Times Viewed: 2,161
Sponsored by: 9 Houses of Gaia
Location: Silver Falls SP, Oregon
Event Date(s): September 13 - 16, 2012
A spectacular setting, wonderful and friendly Pagans, meals, rituals, workshops, and great energy all added up to a wonderful event. 2012 saw the 28th year for this celebration, although it was my first time attending. It was a great introduction to the festivals in this part of the USA.
Venue: The event was held at the youth camp at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. The views, as you can imagine, were spectacular. Massive trees, high vistas, clear water, and a collection of wonderful buildings, built by the CCC in the last century, all added to the magick of this gathering. Three different “villages” of cabins were available with each village transforming the central building into a shrine to a specific goddess. In addition to the open cabins (cabins are filled on a first-come, first-served, basis) there was tent camping. The location, while in a state park, had tightly controlled access and no tourists were spotted during the weekend.
The kitchen/dining facility was roomy enough to handle the flow of people. The dance hall was used for indoor workshops (including both of mine) . There was another building for crafting activities. The showers were somewhat Spartan but the water was hot and if there weren’t too many others showering it was roomy enough (although the showers were not built for anyone over 5’6”) . Bathrooms were available in each village, the main shower house, and in the tent camping area. The swimming pool was closed for the year but those with the courage fought the warm days with a swim in the clear pond.
Programming: A nice track of workshops was available for everyone. I don’t recall having attended a gathering of this size where programming extended to 10 PM, so there was never a lack of things to do. There were both women’s and men’s mystery rituals preceding main ritual on Saturday afternoon. I was particularly impressed with the “make your own goddess mask” workshop. I wasn’t able to attend (I was vending) but I did see the results of the workshop and I was jealous that I wasn’t able to make a mask myself!
A general meeting was held for everyone each morning at 10:00 (although I was only able to attend the Saturday meeting) and was well attended. It was a chance for organizers to pass on news, reminders, and updates as well as a chance for anyone to voice an opinion, ask a question, or make an announcement. The raffle that followed main ritual was well organized and did not drag on and on as these things sometimes do.
Main ritual was a spectacular that included an amazing collection of 6 different goddess masks that were utilized as the goddesses were called down. The ritual was fairly well attended and raised some incredible energy. I would also mention that the ritual coordinator was adaptable enough to accommodate the request of an old Guardian (ah, that would be me) .
Amenities: Food was included in the cost of the event (a very affordable $80 per person) . Although, due to a combination of scheduling conflicts and other factors, I was only able to avail myself for one meal, the food was very good. Best of all, the menus were designed with gluten-free people (like myself) in mind. Only the continental breakfast offered little for me to eat, but the water was nice and hot for me to make my own easy breakfast.
Several fun extras were enjoyed during the event. The Goddess Gaia stopped by my vendor’s booth to offer me cookies (not gluten free, but it was awesome to get the offer anyway) . There were plenty of private spaces on the trails for personal rituals. The remoteness of the location ensured that there were not the usual runs into town to get forgotten items. If you didn’t bring it with you there was a good chance that you would have to go without until the end of the event, although a few did brave the long drive.
Vendors: Vending was outdoors at the top of a fairly steep hill between the dining hall and the workshop area. Throughout the weekend there were 5 vendors and an information booth for the event/sponsoring group. Vending centered on clothing and jewelry but also included an awesome pottery vendor. Vending was not a focus of the event for attendees and the booths were often empty, but the vending fee was reasonable for the venue. Without access to power, and being in a fairly sun-blocked area, vending essentially ended at sundown. It was very comfortable in the shaded vending area, but I can’t help but think that vending might have been stronger if the vending area had been moved to a more popular area.
Pros: The event was well-organized and loaded with structured activities and opportunities for less structured activities. The various temples were wonderful. The central fire (the only fire) was very nice and well attended. The people were awesome and event leadership demonstrated that they are expert at doing this event. The venue was gorgeous. Rituals and other planned activities generally ran on time (that is, normal human time, not “pagan standard” time) . Workshops had a decent attendance (certainly both of mine were well-attended) . The group made an effort to reach out to this Solitary newcomer and I truly felt like I belonged from the first moment. There was often live music being played by individuals and around the fire. Drumming wasn’t widespread, but it was classic.
Cons: No event is perfect. The biggest problem was outside of the control of the organizers. There was a red flag fire ban in place and the particular camp where the event was held would permit no flames of any kind. This not only meant no candle use, but (unprecedented in my experience) no propane use. This turned out to be a significant issue for me since I have a special diet and had counted on preparing at least some of my meals. If the food ran out before I got to the dining hall, I didn’t have much of a fall-back position since I couldn’t heat anything.
I think that vending would have been better had the vending area been closer to where the people were. Customers had to make a specific trek to the vending area so impulse buying was at a minimum. That is only a negative for vendors and shoppers though. For those going to the event without any desire to shop, this had no impact.
Parking was an issue for some attendees. Although, as a vendor, this did not impact me personally I know that it was a point of concern for some attendees. Parking for most people was off-site, although it was only about ˝ mile down the road. I know we all get used to keeping our vehicles as secondary storage sheds during events, so this required a change of approach for some.
Overall Evaluation: NWFEF was definitely a winner. The pros greatly outweighed the cons and I would give NWFEF 2012 4 out of 5 stars (taking the burn ban out of the equation) for an event of this size. I not only would recommend this event to others but also am already making plans to attend next year. At this point, I would see this event on my calendar for the forthcoming decade. I heard very few complaints over the course of the weekend and my personal complaints were few and generally minor. The organizers reached out to me to ensure I had the things I needed and I was generously welcomed by almost everyone I met.
If you are within 2 hours of Portland, Oregon, next September I think you would be foolish to miss this event. I will see you there next year!!
Location: Corvallis, Oregon
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